Jupiter’s South Equatorial Region-NASA
In our comment section, please feel free to name churches/parachurch organizations which will not participate in social distancing.
Does God specifically protect all Christians from the coronavirus if we go to church?
Recently, Anna Keith wrote IS SOCIAL DISTANCING NOW CONSIDERED A LACK OF FAITH? She posted screenshots of the following Tweets.
Anna pointed out an article about Patient 31 who infected over 100 people. From tis Reuters post:
It’s not clear where Patient 31 became infected with the virus, but in the days before her diagnosis, she travelled to crowded spots in Daegu, as well as in the capital Seoul. On February 6 she was in a minor traffic accident in Daegu, and checked herself into an Oriental medicine hospital. While at that hospital, she attended services at the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, on February 9 and again on February 16.
In between those visits, on February 15, doctors at the hospital said they first suggested she be tested for the coronavirus, as she had a high fever. Instead, the woman went to a buffet lunch with a friend at a hotel. In an interview with local newspaper JoongAng Ilbo, the woman denied that doctors had advised her to be tested. As her symptoms worsened, however, doctors say they once again advised her to be tested. On February 17, she finally went to another hospital for the test. The next day, health authorities announced she was the country’s 31st confirmed case. In only a matter of days, those numbers had soared as hundreds of people at the Shincheonji Church and surrounding areas tested positive.
Just as God causes the sun to rise on the just and the unjust, it seems to me that He will not grant immunity to all of those who go to church in the middle of a pandemic.
Some churches decided not to cancel their church services
Although, many have caved into the government mandate at this time. it is worth looking at what some said just about a week ago.
Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor at First Baptist in Dallas, Texas, and one of Trump’s most outspoken admirers, told his congregation he wanted to avoid “pandemic panic.”
“I know some people are saying, ‘The NBA is canceling games, why don’t you cancel church services?'” Jeffress said in an interview with the Dallas TV station KDFW. “Respectfully, what we do is more important than what the NBA is doing. That’s entertainment, and that’s optional. Worship is essential.”
Jeffress appeared to be saying that attending a church worship service was akin to basic life necessities such as food and water. His church is ridiculously huge with tons of money. They have the ability to stream their services online. Unless, and I’d like you opinion, churches lose money when people don’t attend. My family utilizes online giving but I have a feeling that many do not.
Does John Piper also believe that God will protect all Christians who take special risks during this time?
Desiring God posted How Do I Take Risks Without Being Unwise? on March 13, 2020. Although this post appeared not to mention the coronavirus, there is little doubt in my mind that there was a reason this was posted on that date (unless we are saying that Desiring God is uniquely out of touch with what is going on in the world.)
But I am going to argue that the overwhelming thrust of the New Testament is that the disciples of Jesus incline from the heart toward meeting needs at the risk of loss more regularly — at least we ought to — than we incline toward staying safe and comfortable by neglecting risky helpfulness.
Or to put it another way, I don’t want to prescribe precisely when love calls for self-protection and when love calls for self-risk, but the burden of the New Testament is to infuse the faith and love that leans toward self-risk rather than toward self-protection.
…Choosing temporal safety undermines God-centered trust in risk-taking when there is no serious admiration for Paul’s response to those who begged him not to risk his life in going up to Jerusalem in Acts 21:13.
… don’t miss the joy — the deep, amazing joy — that comes from overcoming fear and taking risks of love.
In regards to the Desiring God example, Jandy’s story of abuse also informs us that it is not wise to have people live in our homes without sufficient safety measures in place. Jandy was molested as a little girl due to individuals that her family took into their home to *help.*
Jandy’s parents were well meaning but naive. They were young when they married and were committed Christians. They believed in caring for those less fortunate than they were. This resulted in allowing men, one who had schizophrenia, to move in with their family. Their unsuspecting nature caused them to overlook the possible danger of such actions. It also caused them to trust neighbors and friends.This would be a major factor in Jandy’s relationship with David.
As a small child, Jandy was molested on a number of occasions by some of the men who were living in their home
The problem with using Spurgeon’s actions during a cholera outbreak and applying it to our situation.
Today, The Gospel Coalition posted 5 Lessons from Spurgeon’s Ministry in a Cholera Outbreak.The article was specifically responding to the discussions churches are currently having about the role of the church in COVID-19. So the author used the example of Spurgeon’s actions during the cholera outbreak in London, 1854. I bet some of our astute commenters already know why this might be a poor example. But, before I explain, here are some things that were mentioned.
- During the outbreak, however, Spurgeon recognized his responsibility to be present with the sick and dying.
- The neighborhood where Spurgeon’s church met was not quarantined, so they were able to continue meeting throughout those months.
- In those books, amid all the pastoral challenges of the outbreak, Spurgeon and his deacons continued to receive new members, pursue inactive members, observe the Lord’s Supper, and practice all the other normal activities of a church.
- In these visits, Spurgeon prayed with the sick and grieving, and pointed them to the hope of the gospel.
- Spurgeon did not limit himself merely to visiting members of his congregation, but was willing to visit “persons of all ranks and religions”
The author says that pastors are limited int their ability to be with members during these days, but he doesn’t mention exactly why. Is it merely because the government says so?
Given the concerns surrounding this virus, it’s important to carefully explain why Spurgeon could visit those who were sick. Also, why was it safe for people to allow Spurgeon to visit them? The answer is simple. Cholera, unlike coronavirus, is not spread by droplets. According to the CDC:
A person can get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium. In an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the feces of an infected person that contaminates water and/or food. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water. The disease is not likely to spread directly from one person to another; therefore, casual contact with an infected person is not a risk for becoming ill.
Did the author know this? I don’t know but, at the minimum, he should have mentioned that Spurgeon was involved in a situation far different than our outbreak.
Then, there is the Transformed Wife who believes that the virus is a blessing because women have to stay home.
Besides being woefully uninformed, she show total disregard for those who are suffering with disease or loss of jobs. She is the epitome of self-centeredness.
According to her, the trend of people self-quarantining is putting women back to their rightful place: the home.
“With the Corona virus pushing a lot of women back into their homes with their children (which is a good thing, in my opinion), here are some ideas to help you not be bored at home while being productive too!” she wrote, linking to an article she published to her blog.
…In an article published on March 10 titled Fearing the Coronavirus, Alexander wrote that if one believes in Jesus Christ, they should have nothing to fear when it comes to a global pandemic. She even offered her own brand of health advice.
“I am not a hand washer since I’m not afraid of germs. I have dry skin and I greatly dislike the feel of dry hands,” she wrote. “Yes, I wash my hands after using the restroom but I have never thought about washing my hands after going shopping or out and about. I don’t use hand sanitizer and won’t since I have read that soap and water are much more effective. I will now wash my hands after going outside of my home to shop or anything else I do away from home. I will try to not touch my face if I haven’t washed my hands. I don’t eat junk food and have a lot of elderberry syrup ready to go. I take vitamin C and D every day. I do what I can and leave the rest in the Lord’s hands.”
How Martin Luther taught me how to be less self-absorbed.
A few years ago, I started helping out in confirmation classes at my church. It is a two year course for 5th and 6th grade students. However, the one who has benefitted most from these arrangements is me. Let me give one example.
This year we focused on the 10 commandments. Not only do the students memorize them but they must explain what each of them means in day to day life. The leaders use Luther’s Small Catechism as part of the process.
The 5th Commandment says “You shall not murder” which they must memorize. Then, they must say the following: “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.” We then discuss this in depth in our classes.
I have learned something from this process. It has caused me to go beyond just being sure I didn’t do something like *murder.* It makes me think how I can also care for my neighbor in a tangible way.
*Friend,* a TWW reader, posted this in TWW’s comments.
“From an email sent out by Reverend Donnie Wilkinson of Broadmoor UMC in Baton Rouge, LA (forwarded to me by my mother) The pastor wrote”One person of faith we can look to from history is the famous Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). Luther was a pastor at a time when pandemics were far more common than they are today, and I believe his words from the past are wise counsel for our future.”
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death because of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.” (The Annotated Luther, Volume 4: Pastoral Writings, page 404)”
Luther teaches us to look beyond ourselves in order to care about others. Even back in the days before they fully understood how diseases were transmitted, Luther understood that, just maybe, he could hurt others by his presence.
In our present day understanding of this virus, we know that we can infect people even if we don’t yet know we are sick. This virus is devastating for the elderly and all of those who have diseases which cause immunosuppression like cancer.
Steven Ward, the man who tweeted above, seemed more concerned about showing the world that he thought God was going to protect him from the virus, than he did about protecting those who could be harmed by this virus. Sadly, I have watched many, many deeply committed Christians die who have been exposed or contracted diseases of many kinds. Christians do not get a pass on suffering in this world. I believe that God gave us the knowledge to protect others from being infected by this disease. That is one way He does care for all of us. I wonder what He might say to to Steve who appears not to give a hoot about those around him thinking he is buying God’s approval by showing *no fear.*
On a more humorous note: I sure hope the toilet paper supply chain gets up and supplying before I have to resort to something like this.